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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Don't dismiss McChrystal's doubts

Q: In confronting the issue of Gen. McChrystal's apparent insubordination, did President Obama have any choice but to remove him? Going forward, what can Gen. Petraeus do to overcome this dramatic shakeup and keep his troops reassured and on mission?

President Obama's decision to fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal seems correct from two points of view.

The general's display of disrespect for the civilian leadership of the armed forces is his second such offense. The first was his speech in London last year, when he publicly challenged the president.

However, his sounding off to the Rolling Stone reporter might be more than arrogance. Why would a four-star general risk reprimand and dismissal in such an obvious way? My psychoanalytic radar suggests the possibility that he was expressing his doubts about the whole Afghanistan mission and the civilian leaders making the decisions.
The president is fortunate to have General David Petraeus as a replacement.

Petraeus should treat this as a normal change of command. It is usual for the new commander to review the situation by interviewing senior officers and senior noncoms. However, Petraeus should have a heart-to-heart talk with McChrystal and ask him directly whether he believes in the mission. It is essential to the national interest for Petraeus to carefully explore any and all doubts McChrystal has about what we are doing in Afghanistan and to discuss what he learns with the civilian leadership.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  June 24, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Category:  Wartime Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: When the reason trumps the result | Next: A general destablized by Afghanistan


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Why? Got one word: Hubris.

Posted by: nicekid | June 24, 2010 1:15 PM
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Uh, dunno why the General did it.

Just not paying attention, maybe, or, more likely, delusionally believed he could have universal public support for dissing a liberal, black Commander in Chief.

Posted by: areyousaying | June 24, 2010 12:46 PM
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